What Does It Take to Become a Church That Plants Other Churches?

Veteran church planter Larry Walkemeyer shares 10 winning multiplication moves.

How do we journey toward becoming a Level 5 multiplying church—a church that plants churches that plants churches? What behaviors can you begin to practice to birth a multiplication movement from your church? Church planting leader Larry Walkemeyer shares some of the lessons that Light & Life Fellowship in Long Beach, California, has adopted to embrace the value of reproduction and move toward becoming a Level 5 multiplying church.

1. Leadership

If a church’s senior leader is not sold out to the idea of becoming a multiplying church, there is near zero possibility of the church moving forward. Leaders who are deeply convinced of the biblical call to multiplication will be convincing to others. They must commit to trading in their “church growth” passion for a “kingdom grown” passion.

This was the single most difficult move for me. The American church culture rewards addition. I had to fully believe that the size of my church did not define the reach of my church. Instead, we began to measure our impact by the quality of the disciples we were making and the launch of multiplying churches.

Question: How deeply do you or the senior leader of your church embrace the value of multiplication? Is that belief consistently evident through your leadership behavior and your church’s practices?

2. Communication

Changing the culture of your church requires a change in your values. Granted, this is difficult. It begins by influencing influencers with the why of the change. Tap into the motivation for the change and then tie it to the values your church and leadership team already share (such as reaching the lost with the gospel).

Staff and influencers should be able to give an “elevator speech” detailing the rationale and emotions for this change in your culture—allowing the conversation to be communicated to the church.

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Question: How clear and compelling is your “elevator speech” that explains the rationale for moving toward multiplication? What percentage of leaders and church members can give the speech?

3. Intercession

If our spiritual enemy understands the power of multiplication, then doesn’t it follow he will level his most formidable spiritual weaponry against it? Consequently, our counterattack is our air attack. We send in the prayer warriors like B-52 bombers ahead of our ground troops to remove the spiritual ambushes against us.

When our church began to move toward multiplication, we knew there would be intense spiritual resistance. So we marshaled various forms of prayer. We went to the highest point of the city and prayed. We prayer walked areas where churches would be planted. We fasted and prayed individually. We had all-night prayer meetings. We launched special prayer teams focused on church planting. I’m convinced these moves were major factors in our ability to transition our church.

Question: What level of intercessory prayer—focused on multiplication—is happening in your church?

4. Teaching

To change the multiplication culture of your church, you must identify and maximize your primary delivery points for teaching. You want to develop the multiplication/church planting value from in-depth biblical teaching.

Every year our church spends the first four to five Sundays teaching through the values that are driving our unique and sacrificial behaviors of multiplication. Throughout the year, we revisit this subject in a variety of ways, reminding the church why we are wonderfully different than many other churches.

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Question: To what degree do your church’s public and small group teachings explain and support your commitment to multiplication? How often do you mention multiplication in your teaching?

5. Strategy

Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why underscores the priority of “why” over “how” and “what.” Each time I read it, I cheer. You see, I’m a great “why” guy—strong in passion and weak in plans. We misread Sinek, however, if we think we can ignore the strategy of “how.” We must move beyond convictions to systems. Without a “how,” our “why” remains a disembodied dream.

The first poster I remember seeing in a pastor’s office read, “If you fail to plan, you better plan to fail.” I was this pastor’s student intern for the semester. He saw me looking at the poster and asked me, “So what’s our plan to raise more money for missions?” I hesitantly answered, “Pray?” He beamed. “Great answer! What’s step two of your plan?”